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Judge suspends order for Trump to testify about 2015 fight between his security guards and protesters

President Trump speaks during the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York on Tuesday. (Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg)

A judge has stayed an order for President Trump to testify in a legal dispute brought by protesters who say Trump’s security guards assaulted them during his campaign.

New York Judge Doris M. Gonzalez previously called Trump’s testimony “indispensable” and said the president would have to sit for a video before Thursday, when the now-delayed trial was set to begin. Men who protested at a September 2015 rally outside Trump Tower claim guards shoved them and ripped their signs and that Trump’s head of security, Keith Schiller, punched one of them in the head while another staffer tried to choke a protester.

On Tuesday, Judge Dianne Renwick of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division granted an “interim stay” of Gonzalez’s Sept. 20 order, “pending a determination of the matter by the full bench.”

Renwick instructed that the case should be expedited.

Benjamin Dictor, attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement that he is “confident” the court will uphold Gonzalez’s ruling that Trump is “subject to the same rules and procedures that govern all defendants in our civil justice system.”

Defense attorneys for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Plaintiffs in the case, filed in August 2015, shortly after Trump announced he would run for president, contend that Trump as well as his campaign and business bear responsibility for the security guards’ behavior — because Trump employs the guards and because his language suggested he would condone such violent actions.

Schiller has said the plaintiffs’ banners were blocking a sidewalk and that he hit Efrain Galicia, the man who alleges he was punched, after Galicia grabbed him. Schiller said he thought Galicia was reaching for his gun.

Lawyers for Trump have argued the president has no relevant information to provide in the case, saying he was not at the protest. They accuse the plaintiffs of trying to “subject the president to politically fueled cross-examination on issues that have no real bearing on the claims or defenses in this proceeding.”

Renwick has weighed in on other litigation against Trump: This year, she was part of the 3-to-2 majority of justices that allowed a defamation lawsuit against the president to move forward while rejecting the claim that Trump is immune from state lawsuits under the Constitution.

The ruling reinforced a lower court’s finding that Trump could face a state court suit for actions outside his presidential duties.

“The current sitting president attempts to shield himself from consequences for his alleged unofficial misconduct by relying upon the constitutional protection of the presidency,” Renwick wrote for the majority.